After six years of litigation and two successful jury verdicts, Frazier Caudle, Nikeith Goins, William James, Sholanda Miller, and Donald Smalls settled their long-running retaliation case against the District of Columbia. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the District paid $1.75 million in damages, attorney’s fees, and costs.

The settlement was the culmination of a long battle with the District over violation of the Plaintiffs’ statutorily-protected rights to complain about illegal race discrimination in the workplace. Relman Colfax brought the case on behalf of plaintiffs, each of who were decorated law enforcement officers handpicked to serve in an elite, specialized vice investigation unit. After experiencing and witnessing racial discrimination by a new Lieutenant, the Plaintiffs had a complaint sent to their Commander. Just four days later, the Commander held a meeting in which it was announced that – for the first time ever – officers in the elite unit would have to re-apply for their positions. After the re-application was announced, Plaintiffs filed a complaint filed with the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights and the federal government describing the discrimination and ensuing retaliation. Nevertheless, the Lieutenant was allowed to recommend who would remain in the elite unit. Plaintiffs were removed and reassigned to inferior positions. 

The evidence presented at trial demonstrated that the reasons given by the District for its actions were pretext for illegal retaliation. The District’s official explanation for their actions was contradicted by the commander, supervisors, and the District’s own records.

For our civil rights protections to be meaningful, those who raise concerns about discrimination cannot be punished for speaking up. This case validates important protections against retaliation and helps ensure that District employees are empowered to oppose discriminatory behavior without fear of retribution.   

Case Citation

Caudle v. District of Columbia, No. 1:08-cv-00205-HHK (D.D.C.)

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